California Trip

It’s been radio silence around these parts recently because I’ve been traveling a lot. My final trip across the country in June was an 11 day trip to California. The American Library Association’s annual conference was held in San Francisco this year. My husband’s parents live about 4 hours north of San Francisco in Redding, California. Since I was going to be so close already we decided it was an opportune time to make a visit out to see them. We don’t get out there as often as we probably should because it’s a pain to get there. You can fly direct into Redding with a connection and for a ton of money, or still pay a lot but fly into another airport direct and then drive up. This time we flew in and out of Oakland because there’s a direct flight to there from Baltimore on Southwest.

Unfortunately our flight out was delayed by 3 hours, which was not ideal. It meant we didn’t actually get to Redding until what felt like 2 in the morning our time. The one nice thing about the flight was that serendipitously our friend Julie wound up on our flight heading out to Oakland for an entirely different reason. She moved away from Baltimore last year, so it was nice to get to catch up with her for a few hours while we were flying across the country.

We were there on Father’s Day, so we went out to a late lunch/early dinner with Paul’s parents and his aunt and uncle who live just down the street from his parents. They also took me out later in the week to celebrate my birthday which had recently passed. There’s not much to do in actual Redding itself, but there are some interesting places to go not too far away.

One day we drove about an hour to McArthur-Burney State Park. We hiked the short way down to Burney Falls waterfall and then around until we reached the recreation area on Britton Lake. It was a beautiful day to spend outdoors and the park was lovely.

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After spending four days in Redding we drove back down to Oakland and dropped off our rental car at the airport then hopped an Uber into San Francisco. Happily my best friend from college Teresa and her husband Brian moved out to San Francisco at the beginning of the year so we were able to stay with them while I was in town for the conference. It was a nice bonus to get to visit with some good friends who I don’t get to see often enough.

My conference didn’t start and Paul didn’t fly back to Baltimore until Friday, so we spent Thursday playing tourist in San Francisco. I had been once before and done most of the major touristy things. Paul hadn’t really done any of them so I told him it was up to him what we were going to do. We started off the morning with a walking tour of the Civic Center area of the city, which has all the major government buildings. It was a free tour put on by the City Guides program out of the San Francisco Public Library. We actually didn’t really do much walking, staying in just a tiny little area, but it was still interesting. Our guide was super enthusiastic and knowledgeable. The tour ended inside of City Hall, which is pretty impressive. There were a ton of people getting married while we were in there. These were not what you would think of as a typical city hall wedding. A lot of them seemed to be real formal affairs with wedding parties in tow. I guess with the backdrop such as it was people wanted to get married there.

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After that based on the recommendation from our tour guide we had lunch inside of the Asian-American Art Museum although we didn’t actually tour the museum itself. After that we wandered over to the convention center so I could get registered. In looking for something to do nearby after that we went to the Cartoon Art Museum. It was pretty small, but had some interesting artwork on display for people who are interested in cartoons, comics, and graphic novels. We we ended the day by walking over to Fisherman’s Wharf, which is the one super touristy thing that we did. It was something we really could have skipped. It was pretty much just a bunch of junky tourist shops and the same crap chain restaurants like Hard Rock, Rain Forest Cafe, and Bubba Gump Shrimp that you see in the tourist trap areas of every major city. It pains me to think of how many people visit cities and just wind up eating at these places. After that we headed back to our friends’ place and got burritos to eat in Golden Gate Park, which is just a couple blocks from their house.

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The rest of my trip was mostly spent conferencing, though I did get a few fun things in. I had a chance to meet up for various meals with librarian friends from around the country. It’s always nice to get to see people that I mostly only ever get to see at conferences or to meet up with people in person who I’ve only ever interacted with online prior to that. I didn’t manage to meet up with everyone I was hoping to, but it’s always impossible to fit everything in. Hopefully I’ll be able to meet up with the people I missed in the future at some point.

There are always tons of authors at the American Library Association conference. For the most part I don’t normally get a chance to go to a lot of author talks. I’m usually in committee meetings or feel like I should be attending sessions that will benefit me professionally. Since I was funding this conference out of pocket and my committee work is much reduced this time around I made some time to do a few more fun sessions than I normally do. Mostly this involved seeing Sarah Vowell and Nick Offerman on Saturday. I did have to leave Sarah Vowell’s talk early, and had considered not going but am really glad I made the time. It turns out the two of them are friends and once they realized they were both going to be there giving book talks a few hours apart they decided to interview each other. So she came out and did a reading for her new book due out in October and then said now I’m going to welcome my friend Nick Offereman to the stage to interview me and then I’ll return the favor later. I’m so glad I got to see both of those sessions. I love them both, and it was super fun to see them together.

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As it happened I was in San Francisco when the Supreme Court ruling came down making same sex marriage legal across the entire country. It also happened to be Pride weekend in San Francisco, which made it a very exciting place to be. It felt extra historical to experience it there. The Pride parade was going down a street that is only a few blocks from the convention center so I did manage to make it out to see a bit of it for about 40 minutes in what I think was a 6+ hour parade. It was actually way more subdued than I was expecting. Mostly at least during the parts I saw it was just large groups of people from various organizations walking and waving flags. Every once in awhile a float would come by, but that was more rare. I don’t know if it was more exciting at other times. At any rate it was really great to be out and see everyone so happy and celebrating. I’m glad I got to be a part of it if even for only a short amount of time.

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Overall it was a great trip. San Francisco was a great city to have a conference in. It was a million times better than last year in Las Vegas or what I’m anticipating next year in Orlando will be.

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